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YouTube streams free, ad-supported TV shows for the first time – TechCrunch


YouTube today announced it will stream free, ad-supported TV shows for the first time for the first time – a move aimed at more directly competing with the growing number of free streaming services. on the market, including Tubi, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, IMDb TV, Xumo, Plex, and NBCU’s Peacock. The company says it will initially give US users access to over 4,000 free tv episodes from programs including”Hell Kitchen“”Andromeda“”Heartlandand others. It plans to add up to 100 more titles per week, including shows and movies, to its free streaming collection.

YouTube is already home to a number of free, ad-supported apps movieso today’s launch of free TV is not just an extension of their existing free streaming efforts, rather something entirely new to comapny.

Currently, YouTube hosts more than 1,500 movies from companies like Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, FilmRise, and others. This month, for example, it added new movies like Lost in sixty seconds, Bride on the run and Legit Blondeamong others.

But the broader streaming industry — including ad-supported and subscription-based — tends to focus on TV rather than movies. New initial projects will likely be movies, or at least mini series, of earlier eras, now commonly released as playable programs. Platform makers also like this trend, as it means users are recording more hours watching content on their services. Talent and money have long followed, with TV series winning both the attention and critical acclaim that was normally reserved for Hollywood films in years past.

Image credits: YouTube

Meanwhile, free TV streaming is currently driving most of the growth in the broader streaming market.

According to data from Kantar, 85% of U.S. households have a video subscription, but quarterly growth has mostly come from ad-supported free TV and ad-supported video-on-demand services. 18% of US households now use at least one ad-supported free TV service as of Q4 2021 – a number that has more than doubled since Q4 of the previous year. Kantar says most of the new users in the last quarter were subscribers to Peacock, IMDb TV, Tubi and The Roku Channel accounts.

Meanwhile, YouTube has a significant connected TV footprint in the US, if not free TV. Nielsen data says YouTube reached more than 135 million people on connected TVs in the US by December 2021. But when users search for TV shows on YouTube, it directs them to rent or buy Movie titles mentioned – free streaming is not an option.

That is changing with the launch of the free TV service. YouTube says it will now introduce new navigation and rich banner art that will help users choose how they want to watch – through rental or purchase, as before, or free with ads, when available. Meanwhile, commercials will vary in terms of viewers’ frequency and the context in which they’re watching shows, YouTube said. Most ads are sold through the YouTube Select program.

In addition to some of the bigger names, many of the shows offered for free are older series, like “Father Knows Best,” “Unsolved Mysteries,” “21 Jump Street,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “That Girl” ,” “Car 54, Where Are You ?,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Hopalong Cassidy,” “Laugh-In,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and others. Many free shows only offer 1 or 2 seasons, even if the series is longer. This library won’t immediately make YouTube the top free TV destination, but it can sometimes help ease the boredom for casual YouTubers.

YouTube also notes that many free TV shows are available in high definition 1080p with 5.1 surround sound on supported devices.

Shows will be available to US users starting today through web browsers, on mobile devices, and on TVs connected through the YouTube TV app. You can view the full list of programs through YouTube.com/freeshows.



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